Imports at Europe’s largest container ports declined 1.1 percent in the first two months of this year as economic problems cut into demand, according to Global Trade Tracker’s Northern Europe Trade Outlook.
Exports jumped 10.7 percent, but import volumes have been weakened by austerity-driven measures that have left North Europe in “a mild recession,” said Ben Hackett of Hackett Associates, which produces the report with the Bremen-based Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics.
March import volumes edged up 0.5 percent, while exports rose 4.2 percent, Hackett said. “The weakness in all the short-term leading indicators, combined with the economic and political uncertainty within the euro zone, is driving the consumers’ cautious approach to spending,” Hackett said.
The Port Tracker report forecasts imports will rise 2.4 percent for all of 2012, with a 2.8 percent increase expected in North Europe ports and 1.4 percent growth in the Mediterranean and Black Sea region.
Exports excluding short-sea shipments are expected to rise 4.3 percent this year, with exports growing 6.2 percent in North Europe ports but falling 0.5 percent in the Mediterranean and Black Sea region.